Dealing With Student Frustration

“Frustration, although quite painful at times, is a very positive and essential part of success.”

– Bo Bennett

Okay so one thing I am really trying to focus on is student frustration.  Taking an inquiry type approach produces some feelings and reactions that my students do not usually relate to learning.  The frustration of having to try something only to have it not work is something my students are not used to.  My students are accustomed to instant solutions and are really challenged when the problem tests both their understanding and patience.  Experiencing frustration and successfully working through it is a valuable lesson and I think it can really help my students fall in love with learning.

I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can in order to help my students deal with their frustration. I think the  thing that has worked the best is providing my students a forum to share what they are experiencing.  At the start of the year, sitting down and spending five minutes talking about the challenges certain problems presented allowed my students to see that other students had the same frustrations.  As the semester has progressed we have become better at dealing with our frustration individually.  My students have been honest with me about their frustration, something that has helped them get accustomed to the process of working through it.  Creating a community has allowed my students to not only be vocal with their frustrations but it has also allowed me to gain their trust.

Having to deal with frustration and experience how frustration is an important part of learning has helped my students and I really look at learning from a different perspective.  I am loving the challenges that inquiry presents not only for my students, but myself as well. 

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My Favorite Unit So Far

So I’ve completed my internship at Estevan Comprehensive High School and man was that a blast!  Internship was such a challenging, rewarding, revealing process and I was able to grow so much in such a short time.  This semester I’m sticking around Estevan and subbing while finishing up my final class for my Education degree.

It was thinking about project ideas for my final class that I started thinking back to the different units I taught in Physics and Chemistry this last semester.  I was trying to think hard about what types of learning opportunities worked the best…did some work better than others?…is there one type of approach that works best?  I came to the conclusion that there is more than one way to teach something however what I found for myself is that when I really focused on student engagement at the beginning of the concept they seemed to have a better handle on it in the end.

The engaging activities I used usually took the form of something that at first looked like it had nothing to do with science (I think that was part of the reason my students seemed so engaged). There was no better example of this seemingly unrelated engagement than our unit on chemical kinetics

The Lesson

We were beginning Chemical Kinetics and I had recently seen a new Ted Ed video, “How to speed up chemical reactions (and get a date).”

I began by showing the first couple minutes of this video:

We didn’t watch this video all the way through.  We stopped when the narrator pulled out his construction hat and was about to redesign the school.  I wanted my students to understand their purpose (getting students to collide) and how they could accomplish this thinking for themselves.

We branched out into groups, students were contractors for an hour, and they designed floor plans for schools where there would be a high likelihood to get a date to a dance.  It gave me goosebumps seeing the different ideas that groups had…and the things they were coming up with were synonymous with the different ways we could speed chemical reactions.

When we watched the rest of the video at the end, and tied what we did to chemistry, students were already confident with the idea and we had a good place to start for our study of chemical kinetics.  The rest of the unit was never boring as we were constantly making reference, in some form or another, to relationships both in the real world and in chemistry.  We came out of chemical kinetics with a good understanding of the important concepts…and I don’t think anyone in the class ended up going to the next dance without a date.